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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Amelia Island Artists Workshop
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

A must for me when entertaining out of town guests is a boat ride on the Amelia River Cruise.  It is an adventure which is never the same.  This time Captain "Pajama" Dave and his able first mate Ellen were the stars of the show.  After a little bit of discussion as to who would "get to" do the talking, Dave relinquished his rightful turn to Ellen.
Because Ellen is an artist herself and this trip's group was mostly artists she convinced Captain "PJ" Dave that she could better speak our language.  She says she has seen Dave out of his PJ's only twice and that was at funerals when he showed up in his more respectable jeans.  Ellen claims Dave owns some 60 pair of Jammies.  We do have our interesting people on the island which is part of what I like.
It was good to see this new looking shrimp boat docked at in the Marina.  Gives us hope that shrimping is not dead.  Amelia Cruises is also offering a couple of new trips that sound like lots of fun.  For twenty-five dollars, you can go out on the boat with a marine biologist and help pull a shrimp net and see what you can catch.  It is "catch and release", after a brief stop over in an aquarium so everyone can see and learn about the creatures nabbed in the net.  The cruise also allows for a walk on uninhabited Tiger Island.  The other addition is a 2 hour, strictly for fun, sunset cruise with live music.  You can BYOB & food and have your own party for twenty-nine dollars per person.  These days we all have to be creative in our offerings.
This is the escape boat for the big ship docked at the port.  Ellen says this is like the one in which the sharpshooters 'took out' the pirates off the coast of Africa, the ones who had captured the captain of the commercial ship and was holding him hostage.  The shots had to hit the targets through these small windows.  That took some kind of marksmen to win that one.
But of course my interest was the wonderful reflections I could capture as we passed the port area with the big masses of color the ships represent.  The Escape Boat colors were especially rich and nice.  I wish we had not been in such a hurry but the horses on Cumberland leave the beach when the sun starts down, -so no time to waste.
I could have posted 10 of these but tried to pick out those most different from each other.  The reflections were like a kaleidoscope constantly changing.
Each vessel gives a different look with different colors and patterns mixed with the ever present blue of the reflected sky.
The big red cranes look like some kind of undersea creature with only the ripples from a tiny fish disturbing the surface.
But the topside views are pretty OK also, as more and more people are finding out what a great place Fernandina is to dock and store their boats when they are not using them.  Tiger Point Marina seems to be bustling.
Ellen gave us a nice treat which I had not experienced before.  I told you there is always something new to see or find out on Kevin and Cecilia McCarthy's River Cruises.  Ellen stood on the bow of the boat and stomped her foot.  She said that since the dolphins operate on sonar they would not be able to resist coming up to see what the noise was.  And she was correct as we suddenly had dolphin heads popping up everywhere.
One of the Ospreys has found himself a nice colorful place to hang out and fish in the middle of the river.  You will notice the barbed crown over the light itself to prevent any kind of sitting or nesting on the beacon that might interfere with the navigation so important if your are coming into port.
We postponed the Fort Clinch pass in an effort to reach the south end of Cumberland Island in a futile effort to see the horses before their "beddie-bye time".  These is nothing about Cumberland Island that I don't love except the pigs, and some of the bugs (ticks and mosquitoes in particular).  The view from here of the south end is perfect, which during my camping days on Cumberland meant committing most of the day to do a hike down that far and still have time to explore.  You can't walk on the beach there or here without taking time to find beach treasures.
Once upon a time we did just that, with the goal of digging Clams.  I was with a really great friend, Pat Weatherby, who knew all about how to locate and dig clams.  We had been told by some other campers where to find them and that they were good.  This is the area of sand flats that was to be our destination.  We had also told some city slickers from New York City about our planned adventure and they decided amongst themselves that digging wild clams sounded good to them also.  They figured they would surely be smarter than a couple of hillbilly girls, and would find an easier way to get there.  They looked on the map, saw that "as the crow flies" it would be much closer to head down the middle of the island.  What they didn't count on was the wide expanse of mucky marsh grasses and large tidal creek laying between them and the Clam beds.  They ended up on the banks of Beach Creek scratched, shoeless (shoes swallowed up by the sticky muck), unable to cross the creek, and too exhausted to retrace their journey.  In the mean time Pat and I were happily digging our clams.  Luckily they were able to flag down a boat in the creek and hitch a ride back to the dock.  They were not happy campers that night,  and somehow seemed to want to blame us for their misfortune.
This would have been the area they decided to hike through and if you know any thing about Spartina grass it is not kind to bare skin with its saw-like edges.  A Great Blue Heron does not lose his focus on dinner and stands his ground as we ease by him.
The hammock here is like a wild untamed jungle.  A place for wild horses, raccoons, a few mink, Gopher Tortoises, seed ticks, chiggers (red bugs), and probably lots of snakes.  A place I prefer looking at from the water.
The hammock gives way to the watery marsh which stretches eastward to the dunes; once crossed, they reveal the beautiful sandy beaches all along the eastern side of Cumberland Island.  And what beaches they are, so wide and white hiding a treasure trove of shells if you know where to look.  The beach was a much nicer route to the clamming area that's for sure.  Pat no longer has her eyesight, but I'm sure, like me, has stored those images from that long ago day and re-plays them; remembering a time when two much younger gals set out on the great adventure of "going native" on an untamed island, gathering our food, bringing it back to camp, steaming it, and sitting down to a great melted butter dipped meal, around our campfire.  Just like the Native Americans did, well, except for the butter.  Ummmm, nice reflections from the past.
Our usually pristine and regal Great White Egret was now wearing a mucky head dress from rooting around in the abundant food sources found in the wet, rich world of the marsh, the richest ecosystem in the world.
An unexpected treat from our accommodating hosts, Dave and Ellen, was to follow Beach Creek up its length rather than the abbreviated trip we were used to.  They were still trying to find us some of the horses; they had already left the beach for the evening.
As we traveled deeper and deeper into the creek, we passed many more birds and luckily we got to see some of the pretty-in-pink Roseate Spoonbills which some in our artist group had never seen before.
As we go further yet into the creek, old Mr. Sol was sinking lower and lower toward the horizon.
Horses are sometimes spotted in the area around the Dungeness ruins, the mansion which at one time was the center of the Carnegie life here on Cumberland Island.  The wall once separated lush gardens, grown to feed the family, from the manicured lawns.  The garden was fertilized with the organically rich muck from the marsh.  The Carnegies led a very fine and independent lifestyle for a long time on this remote southern isle, with some of the decendants still running the only commercial Inn on the island.
It was time to beat a hasty retreat back down the creek before the sun sunk totally into darkness.
It is much easier to navigate this curvy marsh creek, now at low tide, in the daylight.
The trip out is a bit less peaceful then the trip into the creek.  A very fine adventure.
Back across the open water we take in the views of Fort Clinch, then reach the deep port of Fernandina Beach, now lit by the night time lights.  Its a pretty sight and one which my friends and fellow artists enjoyed to the hilt.
The shrimp boats were very ghost-like in this badly focused photo I got by accidentally bumping my settings on the camera, but they almost make a statement about the industry.  Let us continue to resolve to buy local shrimp and not foreign farm raised shrimp, which are raised under some very questionable third world practices.
So we hope Fate lets shrimping and life in Fernandina Beach continue to exist without losing any of the good "old ways" but also utilizing any of the new ways that help us to survive these times intact.  Its our own little Mayberry by the Sea and we like it that way.
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These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature. Thousands of hours have been poured into them and it has even become necessary to enlist the services of a paid email service to send out the large numbers who now receive them. So, with the current economic situation if you are able to make a small donation to help ensure the continuation of the stories it would be greatly appreciated.)

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